Have you heard?
The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest has relocated to Paris. “Duck Dynasty” will be filming on location in the Hamptons. And Masters officials are deciding between Iceland and Tasmania for 2018.
A little extreme?
Yeah, probably. But this reflects some of the reaction to news that ESPN‘s “College GameDay,” which happens to be America’s greatest pregame show, will shoot this weekend in New York City. Times Square, to be exact.
ESPNU/Sirius XM radio host Mark Packer tweeted: “Love ‘GameDay’ but there have been more important football games played in my front yard than Times Square.”
Tweeted Stewart Mandel of the Athletic: “Hey, let’s take an event that showcases the passion of college football to the least passionate spot in the country.”
As a native New Yorker — and I’m not talking upstate, which we Manhattanites view as anything north of Yonkers — I can confirm that not much college football takes place in the Big Apple.
Rutgers has yet to build a stadium in Central Park, though that might give New Jersey native Jim Delany an idea. This is the splash-seeking commissioner who moved this season’s men’s Big Ten basketball tournament, typically in Chicago or Indianapolis, to Madison Square Garden. It even has to be played a week earlier than normal because MSG is booked on that primo weekend by, you know, the Big East.
Delany has a New York City jones, as does ESPN, which is setting up shop in Manhattan independent of an actual game. Columbia is playing host to Georgetown less than 10 miles away, but that’s merely a coincidence.
“New York City is a melting pot of college football fans and the heartbeat of America,” ESPN executive Lee Fitting said in a release. “Thousands of alumni gather in the city each fall Saturday to root on their school, and we are bringing ‘College GameDay’ to New York for them.”
As a kid, I went mainly to Knicks and Yankees games. Plus Jets, Giants, Rangers, Mets, Islanders, Devils, Cosmos (I think), St. John’s and Columbia basketball, U.S. Open tennis and the Marathon. Pretty much everything but college football, which had as much presence in New York City as giardiniera. The first game I saw in person was at Northwestern my freshman year.
I interned at the New York Daily News after college and wrote about 40 stories. Only one was on college football, and it was headlined: “Another Uphill Battle for the Toothless Lions.”
Columbia actually went 5-4-1 that year, improving from 2-8. Showed me.
I’ll be heading out to New York to stalk that dreamy Kirk Herbstreit, shadow the rest of the “GameDay” crew Friday and Saturday and attempt to consume a dozen smoked salmon-on-a-bagel sandwiches.
ESPN normally announces “GameDay” locations less than a week ahead but revealed this one three days earlier. The network wanted to give New Yorkers extra time to arrange their schedules for the rough equivalent of a Kid Rock concert in North Korea.